Former Flyer Carcillo draws first blood

Kevin Klein #8 of the New York Rangers rides Matt Read #24 of the Philadelphia Flyers into the boards during the first period in Game Seven of the First Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 30, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Kevin Klein #8 of the New York Rangers rides Matt Read #24 of the Philadelphia Flyers into the boards during the first period in Game Seven of the First Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 30, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Posted: May 02, 2014

NEW YORK - There were no Flyers fans sitting along the glass for Dan Carcillo to gloat in front of on Wednesday night. Instead, it was a jubilant Madison Square Garden crowd ignited by Carcillo's go-ahead goal.

The Rangers tough guy spent three seasons wearing a Flyers sweater before the team let him go, failing to tender him a qualifying offer. Carcillo scored the first goal in New York's 2-1 victory over the Flyers in Game 7.

"Whether it's the Flyers or any other team, it's nice to be able to contribute offensively and bring energy," Carcillo said. "Especially if it's an old team that didn't qualify you, maybe you try a little harder."

It was his second goal of the series. The previous goal came in Game 3, when Carcillo capped a 4-1 win and celebrated in the faces of insulted Philadelphia fans - one of whom showed Carcillo his disapproval with two outstretched middle fingers.

On Wednesday, Carcillo's celebration was less confrontational. The goal was even more important.

"It was huge," Carcillo said. "Especially at home. Got the crowd into it. In the first period, there wasn't much going on."

With the teams in a scoreless second-period gridlock, Carcillo exited the penalty box after serving two minutes for the Rangers' having too many players on the ice. He skated for only 27 seconds when he broke the tie.

Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello whipped a behind-the-back pass that zoomed past the Flyers' Andrew MacDonald and Braydon Coburn. Carcillo slid to goalie Steve Mason's back side and tapped the puck into the net for a 1-0 lead.

"A special play by a really good player," Carcillo said of Zuccarello's pass.

Carcillo was a healthy scratch in the Flyers' Game 6 win, but he provided the Rangers with fresh legs in the second of back-to-back games. He also provided playoff experience: It was his 40th postseason game and his second Game 7 goal.

Flyers fans might remember the other one: It came in the third period of the Flyers' 2011 clinching victory over Buffalo.

"I've always liked the big stage," Carcillo said. "More people are watching."

That's the reason Rangers coach Alain Vigneault decided to dress Carcillo for just the third time this series.

"I just felt in a Game 7 like this, I'd rather go with experience," Vigneault said. "He had been in those situations before."

As the NHL has changed in recent seasons, so has Carcillo. He averaged 17.75 fights per season from 2007-08 through 2010-11, yet he has averaged only four fights in the last three seasons. This has been a deliberate change, and he admitted in past years he was "too caught up in hitting and just that side of the game."

Carcillo has spent time bruising the back of the net against the Flyers. Wednesday marked his fifth goal in seven games against his former team, including the postseason.

The Rangers went 19-9-3 in the 31 regular-season games he dressed after a Jan. 4 trade from Los Angeles and won two of the three postseason games he played in.

"When you're in, you try to do something to stay in," Carcillo said. "Whether it be offensively or bring a lot of energy, that's what I tried to do every time I was in this series."

Wednesday's goal will haunt the Flyers.

Carcillo laughed when asked about the lack of Flyers fans displaying their distaste at the Garden. It did not dampen his excitement.

Carcillo, now a rival, will continue playing, while his former team faces another Cupless spring.


zberman@phillynews.com

@ZBerm

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